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“No Respect”: 3 Factors Influencing Why IT Often Doesn’t Get Respect Within the Corporation – and What to Do About It

What’s up with the Information Technology (IT) department in most companies?

Even though they provide a valuable service, they often face challenges in getting the appropriate recognition and respect for their efforts and contributions, in the past or in the present.

To understand this better – and to do something about it – it helps to focus on 3 significant factors that underpin this lack of respect and acknowledgement. They are:  Continue Reading

The #1 Most Powerful Motivator At Work

As a manager, if someone asked you about the #1 most important “motivator” for your employees, what would you say?

Money? A title? Opportunity for growth? A place where all the workers get along without conflict?

Surprisingly, none of these is #1.

There is a lot of research that has explored the most powerful and impactful motivators for people in the work environment and, consistently, one answer tops the list. It is…

“The need to be perceived as being valued.”

The key to this motivator is to understand that it has nothing to do with how you, the manager, think you are “valuing” an employee.

Rather, it has everything to do with how the employee perceives himself or herself as being valued.

In other words, the perception of “being valued” is completely in the eye of the employee.

Understanding this important distinction creates a big opportunity for the Manager to influence the employee to continually motivate themselves to maintain their performance, their focused energy, and their enthusiasm in the workplace.

As a Manager, all you have to do is appropriately ask the employee what “being valued” looks like to them. Then you must be ready (if at all possible) to deliver what the employee believes “ being valued” looks like to them.

Now, here’s the surprising part.

A lot of the time, it is a very small thing that is important to the individual that gets them to conclude that they are “being valued”.

Here is a true story from our client experience that highlights this point. The employee name and the business have been changed to protect confidentiality.

Janice works as a project coordinator at the biggest branch of a large Bank and, as a consequence of some Organizational changes, some of the workspaces have been reallocated.

For Janice, this meant she was moved to a new workspace.

This move triggered two of the most stressful things that a person can go through – “Change of social status and change of environment”.

Even though the change might look insignificant to some, for Janice it  triggered an unconscious cascading consequence of emotional negativity.

Because Janice’s new work station is now physically further away from her Manager, she feels like she has been demoted and, because she no longer has a view outside, she feels isolated and abandoned.

So she is stressed.

In addition, because of the way her new workspace is configured, her computer monitor is not in the same place it used to be on her desk, which means that now, to see the monitor properly, she has to turn her head, which results in neck pain by the end of the day, which is also affecting how she is sleeping.

The pain and sleeplessness, added to the stress of the Organizational workspace move is now an escalating situation for her.

Making things worse, when she asked the IT person if he could move her monitor, he said that he couldn’t do it because he didn’t have a long enough cable. He said that she would just have to live with it.

For Janice that was the last straw!

So, when her Manager dropped by to see how she was doing, he was surprised to hear her say that she may have to start looking for another job as she was clearly not valued or appreciated in the company.

Now, Janice wasn’t irrational.  She realized that workspace change made a lot of sense for the company and she understood that she wasn’t the only one being affected and also understood that, in the long run, it would be fine and would just take a little getting used to.

However, when it came to “feeling valued”, her sore neck and sleeplessness along with her feelings of isolation and abandonment became focused on the computer monitor that couldn’t be moved.

This situation presented the Manager with an opportunity to easily diffuse the issue or, by ignoring her feelings and point of view, to make things worse – and possibly lose a good employee.

Fortunately, the Manager did the right thing.

He immediately got into his car, drove to the nearest computer supply store, bought an appropriate length cable, went back to Janice’s workspace and connected the new cable himself, moving the monitor to the right spot as Janice directed so that she was now comfortable and satisfied.

He also reiterated that Janice was both very valuable to the team and an important resource and asset to the branch and the company.

Janice now felt valued!

All for the price of a computer cable and a little proactive and supportive attention.

Now, it’s important to recognize that an employee’s perception of a “value issue” can change situationally and over time.

Tomorrow or next month, Janice’s perception of what constitutes a value issue may be different than it is today.

For her manager, this is actually a huge opportunity, because all he has to do is keep appropriately asking Janice how she is doing and what he can do make her feel valued.

It is as simple and as complicated as that to proactively take advantage of the most powerful motivator for people in the business environment.

How to Better Manage Your Time & Prioritize More Effectively

At the restart of any business year, we often hear people say that there is so much to do that they don’t have enough time to appropriately handle all the priorities coming at them, all at once.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Especially as you start your New Year, when a number of the issues you have already been dealing with may now have been re-labeled or viewed as urgent, critical or even an emergency.

As a result, a common question is: “How can one get a better perspective on what may feel like a lot of pressure?”

If you’re a manager, “How can you help your people handle their workloads more effectively and efficiently?”

Part of the problem, we’ve discovered, is that the business cultures in many companies have inadvertently and unintentionally “normalized” themselves into the idea that everything is urgent.

Yours may be one of them.

The problem with “normalizing urgency” is that when something is actually urgent, the people in these cultures don’t know how to appropriately deal with it, leading, more often than not, to unwarranted and unnecessary additional stress.

So, let’s start with a simple truth.

Not everything can be “urgent”.  

While all activities and tasks, framed by a company’s collective job descriptions, are important, not everything can be urgent. If everything is urgent, your company has much bigger problems than time management and may, actually, be out of control.

To get a handle on managing the consequential unproductive pressure of overusing the word “urgent”, it often helps to simply introduce some agreed upon definitions for your function, department or business.

The suggested definitions are…

Important. This means that something important has to be proactively addressed in the sequence and order of priority on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. It’s a person’s ongoing “to do” list. These tasks and issues are dealt with all the time and are framed by the individual’s job description.

Urgent. This means it has to be dealt with “reactively” (proactively if possible) and usually occurs as an unannounced surprise event or issue that needs to be addressed immediately to maintain and sustain stability.

Critical or Crisis. This is something that could negatively harm or impact the company from a legal, financial, moral or ethical perspective and, as a result, needs to be dealt with instantly to mitigate the anticipated harm.

Emergency. This is a life threatening situation where there is potential serious physical, mental or emotional harm and/or consequences to an individual or individuals.

With these suggested definitions in place, here are some guidelines on how to now prioritize and better manage your time.

1. Everything on your “to do” list is important. Your “top ten” are obviously the most important and your “top three” are the “top-of-the-top”. Focus on them first.

2. Your business can probably (and practically) handle ONE urgent thing a month.

This would be something that is so important that it trumps your “top ten” and “top three” important lists.

If there is more than one “urgent” thing a month, it’s worth checking to see that individual and departmental goals, communication, staffing, training, job descriptions and overall strategy are all optimally assigned and delegated.

In start-ups, “urgent” issues are sometimes more common because the company is still trying to figure out its pattern-of-success (what works and what doesn’t).

3. Hopefully you have no more than ONE critical or crisis thing per quarter, which trumps everything that is “important” and, if it coincides with an “urgent” thing, it trumps that too.

4. We can all wish for none or at most ONE emergency a year. Which trumps everything!

When these simple but effective guidelines are negotiated, introduced, monitored, managed and maintained, prioritization becomes clearer and productivity goes up, while stress immediately goes down.

The result is that the company then gets more done with less frenetically focused energy.

If you are interested in more time management suggestions, please click here for additional tips on how to better manage your time. 

Parenting – The Ultimate Emotional Challenge

One of the cornerstones of effective Self-Management is the ability to consciously manage our emotions.

This critical skill is so important that it features prominently in many of our client workshops, where we focus on Emotional Maturity and the journey to become aware of how we are currently managing our emotions.

It’s no surprise that during the workshops, a lot of parents start to make connections between emotional Self-Management and the relationships they have with their children.

Specifically they make connections about how their Belief System affects their emotions, triggering unconscious and often unwanted behaviors towards their kids.  (Your Belief System is defined as the sum of your cumulative memories and experiences from birth)

These experiential connections are often shocking, humbling, exciting, and challenging. Many participants have told us that it has been “life changing” for them.

As a result, we’ve had a lot of requests for blogs about the parenting insights that are consistently generated during the workshops. Sort of a “top 10”.

Until now, we haven’t posted these insights because it is not a simple subject and a blog post is not the ideal vehicle to address it.

However, it’s time.

So, we will post parenting insights in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. Based on our experience, here are the first few!

Be warned that these points may challenge your existing Belief System around parenting (if you are one) in the same way they challenged our participants.  Continue Reading

Are You a Conditional or an Unconditional Team Member? – Respect for the Team Leader

If you’ve ever wondered why some members of a team seem to support the appointed team leader unconditionally while others seem as if they are trying to take over the team, this blog will help explain what’s going on.

The reason that it’s important to know and understand these differences is to have a better understanding of team dynamics so that you can manage a more effective team.

In our previous blog, we looked at one of the factors that might help you tell the difference between a team member who is willing to be part of a team unconditionally (no strings attached) and one who is not (there are qualifiers before they will commit totally).

We called them “willing” or “unwilling” team members.

Both types can make great contributions to the team. It’s just that they differ in the unconscious conditions they put on team membership.

In the previous blog, we focused on how people share information and the reasons why some team members innately share lots of information with the team while others don’t.

In this blog, we focus on respect for the team leader.

Here’s how the two types of team members relate to the appointed team leader, starting with “conditional” or “unwilling” team members.  Continue Reading

Are You A Willing or An Unwilling Team Member?

At work, have you ever wondered why you are more willing or less willing to be part of a team than others around you?

You may be surprised that one of the reasons that you are either more or less willing to be part of a team has to do with your personality, specifically with how “conditional” you make being part of a team.

One symptom of this natural bias has to do with how you share information.

If you find yourself sharing or communicating information with your team members spontaneously, whether they ask you or not, and you share all the relevant information on the subject about which you are communicating with them, this is an indicator that you are willing to be part of a team unconditionally.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself sharing or communicating information with your team members only when they ask for it, and then you only share the information you believe is relevant (which might not be all the information about the subject about which you are communicating), this is an indicator that you are only willing to be part of a team conditionally.

This conditional or unconditional team participation is one of the behaviors triggered by your personality – unconsciously and habitually. In other words, you are doing it and you don’t know you are doing it.

This is the kind of valuable information that “psychometrics” surfaces.

Psychometrics is a tool that helps you understand what your natural personality biases are. It also surfaces which behaviors these biases naturally trigger – such as how conditional or unconditional you make team participation.

At Breakthrough Management, we use psychometrics to help our clients communicate with each other more effectively and better participate with each other in teams.

Our next blog will further explore how psychometrics helps you understand the behaviors triggered by your personality.

Five Tips on How To Reply To An Email Effectively In Business

There are lots of blogs (including ours) that focus on how to Write an effective email.

However, it’s just as important to effectively Reply to an email.

Here are some tips about how to reply, based on our experience and on Best Practices:

  1. Use “Reply All” appropriately
  2. Determine urgency
  3. Update the subject line
  4. Remember intent
  5. Be specific

Here’s how to make these 5 tips work for you…  Continue Reading

Nine Tips on How To Write An Effective Email In Business

Have you ever had an email “blow up” on you? Or, have you seen one “blow up” on someone else?

Was it misunderstood, generating negative feedback, necessitating follow-up emails, and even lengthy phone calls trying to “fix” things?

If the answer is “yes”, the tips below might prevent this from happening again or at least, mitigate the damage.

Based on our experience and an evaluation of best practices, here’s what’s important in an email:

  1. Focus on your intent
  2. Write a clear subject line
  3. Decide on who will be cc’ed on the email
  4. Number and prioritize the key points in your email
  5. Summarize attachments
  6. Think about what you are going to say
  7. Proofread
  8. Assume the world is going to see it
  9. Pick up the phone

Here’s how to make these 9 tips work for you…  Continue Reading

How to Get Two More Productive Hours at Work Everyday With One Simple (Surprising) Strategy

In our previous blogs we focused on how unmanaged email can affect your work life negatively.

And, we focused on how the telephone is more effective than email in communicating your message effectively.

However, email is a fact of life in business, so if you must use it, it’s important to use and manage it effectively.

Here’s how to start…  Continue Reading

The #1 Reason Why the Telephone is More Effective than Email

Email hasn’t helped improve communication in the workplace.

In many cases, it’s made things worse.

And, many managers are wondering how to fix this.

Here’s a suggestion…  Continue Reading